A Shrewsbury-born soldier who led his Jackal vehicle into a firefight to enable two fellow soldiers to withdraw to safety has been honoured for his courageous actions.
It was just one of three incidents where Sergeant Adam Humphreys showed courageous actions whilst deployed on Op Newcombe in Mali.
Sergeant Humphreys was one of around 80 soldiers from C Squadron, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) who deployed on the six-month tour to Mali last year, as part of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission.
The QDG together with soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, provided a reconnaissance capability, conducting patrols to gather intelligence and engage with the local communities to help the UN understand and respond to the threats to the local population.
Sergeant Humphreys had completed a recce and was heading back to his Squadron location when he heard over the radio that soldiers located a short distance away had come across two men on a motorbike, armed with a PKM machine gun and an AK rifle. The armed men made their escape, leaving behind their motorbike and ran into nearby bushes. Two QDG soldiers dismounted from their Jackal and headed into the bushes to try and locate them but found themselves pinned down by enemy gun fire.
Sergeant Humphreys arrived on scene shortly after and without hesitation directed his driver to drive straight into the firefight whilst shooting his General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) to enable the soldiers to escape to safety.
His citation states his actions contributed to saving the lives of the two soldiers.
On learning of his award, the 31-year-old said: “I was really surprised to be honest and very proud. I was just doing my job and although I never expected this award, it is a great honour.”
His citation also describes how in another two separate incidents his actions resulted in the detention of armed men and the seizure of weapons
Sergeant Humphreys explained: “My troop was out on patrol when we came across two armed men near a river. When they saw us, they fled, so we searched the area to see if we could find them. I found one of them hidden in the water and detained him.”
The second incident was when Sergeant Humphreys was inspecting a new route. He came across two armed men on a motorbike who, on seeing him and the rest of his troop driving towards them, fled the scene on their motorbike.
The motorbike was no competition for the reconnaissance team and their Jackal. The armed gunmen abandoned the motorbike and made a run for it, hiding in bushes. Again, Sergeant Humphreys sought them out and detained them for questioning.
His citations states: “His courageous actions in the face of the enemy have demonstrated the resolve of the United Nations peacekeepers and strengthened the reputation of the British Army amongst her allies.”
Sergeant Humphreys, who has previously served on tours of Afghanistan and Op Cabrit in Poland, concluded: “I really enjoyed my deployment and found it really fulfilling. Our core job is reconnaissance, and it was great to be able to put all our training and experience into practice.”
The Mention in Despatches is one of the oldest forms of recognition for gallantry within the UK Armed Forces. Since 1993 the Mention in Despatches has been reserved for gallantry during active operations.